Natrona County School Closures

Casper, Wyoming - Last Friday's announcement about the possibility of more schools closing in Natrona County because of the economy, s unfortunate for the students who attend. They get used to the school, and tradition is strong here, but when a 1,000 seats across the district remain unfilled; administrators are doing their best to take the drama out of their decision.

“There's no need to necessarily disperse the funds as far as they're going. So it's kind of pull it in so that the funds can go more appropriated,” said parent Beth Hansen.

Among the eight recommended closures Willow Creek Elementary emptied it's halls in 2016. The Special Education Service Center is also on the list. Administrators say only district staffers worked in that building and should it close, the staff will be moved to the Central Services Facility.

“We are looking for strategies to reduce the overall cost of running the school district while maintaining a focus on student achievement and student learning,” said Michael Jennings, the  Executive Director of Human Resources for the district.

Should Frontier Middle School close, it would be displacing roughly 175 students all of which would have their pick to be transferred to one of the top three schools in the district.

“You assume, even though they're being dispersed, they're putting into an opportunity where they're actually going to get an advantage at their education,” said  another parent. “What material they're being handed and if the school funds are being allocated differently maybe they'll get better opportunities because their school gets more funds.”

Two of the proposed school closures have already been vacated. North Casper and Westwood. Those students have been transferred to Lincoln or Cottonwood Elementaries.

“The teachers in any of these schools that are being recommended for closure, will follow the students to wherever they go,” said the Executive Director For School Improvement, Rick Skatula.

NCSD said they intend on minimizing the impact on students and staff. But one parent says it's easier said than done.

“They can't minimize the impact. I mean they're going to displace hundreds if not more students. it's going to impact their lives. Teachers are going to lose jobs. Parents are going to change entire schedules. You can’t minimize that impact,” said Ebon Dyall.

The final three elementary schools on the list Mountain View, Willard and University Park will also give students the choice to transfer. The proposed cutbacks will go before the school board over the next couple of weeks.